I go back to work tomorrow after a 2 week break! Hmmm....not sure how I feel about that but I really can't complain since I like my job, my boss and my students!
On January 2nd, my in-laws came over to celebrate. New Year's holiday is the most important in Japan. Most have January 1st, 2nd and 3rd off-banks, post offices, schools etc are closed. So, because I can't cook traditional "osechi" (Japanese New Year's food), we had sushi delivered and bought "osechi" from the supermarket plus I made a few non Japanese appetizers. Traditionally in Japan, the last 3 days of December are spent cleaning the house (like spring cleaning) and cooking so that from the 1st -4th the women don't have to do much. This first picture has some kind of sweet chestnut dish (creamy looking little blobs in the upper left corner), black beans, dried fish and sea weed on the bottom and to the right is a dish of beer snacks like cheese, and dried squid.
This next picture shows both the sushi and the colorful plate behind it has "tamago yaki" (the yellow food) which is like a rolled slightly sweet scrambled egg. The pink and the white things are called "kamaboko" and are made from fish paste. The really cool thing about these pink and white ones is that they have pictures in the center of the food...see the pics below.
This one is supposed to be ume....plum blossoms on a branch. It is a little hard to see.
This one is a pine tree!!
This is a better picture of the sushi...you can see we had a lot of sushi!!!
This is our tatami room...I was standing in the corner to take this picture...it isn't really good but you can get an idea. Of course, we sat on the floor to eat!
I totally meant to post this next story about the post office before the end of the year but didn't get a chance to so I will now.
My post office
I went to my little post office on December 30th for the last time in 2008. I took some pics because I thought they might be interesting. This is my little post office! BTW...in Japan, the post office is also kind of like a bank...you can have a savings account, pay bills etc. So, in fact, this little post office only has 1 line for the actual mailing of packages....the other 3 are for banking! I make a lot of people wait most days!
At New Year's they are very nice (actually they are great all year!) because they put out stamps for people to make their own new year's post cards right at the post office. You can buy the postcards and then instead of writing a message, they can just stamp it on. The messages are pretty much the same...happy new year. This is not a time for writing notes. They decorate for the holiday as well....these are traditional Japanese New Year decorations made from bamboo.
This is a special box just for the "nengajyo" or Japanese postcards. If you put them in here by the 30th, they will delivered on January 1st. Yep....postal workers have to deliver these special postcards all over Japan on the 1st. I got some...I should take pics of them...will do that later.
Oh and we went to the supermarket on December 30th...it was a zoo!!!! Everyone was shopping for "osechi" and gifts and sake! The supermarkets were also decorated for New year's!
I wish you all nothing but the best for 2009!!!